Gateway IndyCar: Power edges Herta, takes first pole of 2021

Team Penske-Chevrolet’s Will Power scored the 63rd pole position of his career despite a slight gearchange glitch on his first flyer beating Colton Herta’s Andretti Autosport-Honda by less than 0.1mph.

Gateway IndyCar: Power edges Herta, takes first pole of 2021

Third driver to go out, Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet’s Felix Rosenqvist, became the first driver of the weekend to produce a 179mph lap and landed a two-lap average of 178.928mph. That was enough to survive strong efforts from Ed Jones (Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan), and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport-Honda), until finally eclipsed by Alexander Rossi.

The Andretti Autosport-Honda driver became the first to produce two laps in the 179mph bracket as he nailed a 179.731mph average, but then Will Power came up with a first lap of 180.158mph – despite struggling with a downshift to fourth into Turn 1 – and then his second lap was 181.081mph.

Power’s teammate Simon Pagenaud came close to edging him, with a stronger first lap, but bled off a tenth on the second lap – as opposed to Power’s stronger second lap – and wound up P2.

That left the 2016 champion vulnerable to Colton Herta’s attack, and sure enough, the youngster’s two 180.5mph laps resulted in second – less than 0.1mph from Power.

Marcus Ericsson managed to beat Rossi’s speed with a single 180mph lap to go fastest of the Chip Ganassi Racing-Hondas, while Josef Newgarden beat them both. However his first lap was ‘only’ 179.9 which neutered the fact that he produced the strongest second lap of anyone, and left him third fastest, starting alongside Pagenaud.

Pato O’Ward’s Arrow McLaren SP entry claimed fifth, to beat Ericsson by hundredths of a mile-per-hour, while Rossi will roll off seventh alongside six-time and defending champion Scott Dixon.

Graham Rahal’s average of precisely 179.000mph was enough to claim 10th alongside Rosenqvist.

Penske’s rookie Scott McLaughlin appeared mildly tentative on his first flying lap, only 177.940mph, but his second lap was 179.898 – fastest of the day to that point – which sent him vaulting up to second place, with an average of 178.914mph.

Oval debutant Romain Grosjean looked very settled in the Dale Coyne Racing with RWR-Honda, and produced a two-lap average of 178.220mph, despite a slightly messy second lap, and managed to outpace the likes of Jack Harvey’s Meyer Shank Racing-Honda and Tony Kanaan’s Ganassi entry. Grosjean’s two-lap average was only 0.1mph slower than teammate Jones’s effort, and he will start 14th of the 24 cars.

Championship leader Alex Palou’s fortunes took a knock, with only 12th fastest time, on top of his nine-place grid penalty for an early engine change.

The cars will now be impounded, with minimal changes allowed before the race start at 7.40pm local (Central) time.

Qualifying results:

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